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Franklin Levinson's

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Pawing at suppertime

Hi Franklin,

Any suggestions on how I could get my horse 'Chance' to stop pawing at the ground every time he is eating his grain?

With his right front hoof, he paws out about 4 - 6 inches of dirt every time, he starts eating his grain.

Your Friend, Karen

Hi Karen,

That is a very common behavior amongst horses. It is a herd based action where the horse is telling everyone to stay away because its 'my' time to eat. Also, "this is my food, don't touch it!" Unless the animal is hurting himself or potentionaly someone else, it's not that big a deal. Here is a technique if you want to attempt to modify this behavior. Understand that this sort of technique has some risks in unskilled hands. You get a thick (1 to 1 - 1/2 inch diameter), very soft, line of rope. You only need enough to go around the hoof just below the fetlock and just above the coronory band, tied with a bolin knot and so it is a little bit lose and easily untied (will not bind from pressure). You could also put a quick release feature in the knot if you knew how. You tie the rope around the hoof leaving a tail of about 8-10 inches. You must introduce this to the horse in hand on a lead rope in case he gets too scared and reactes fearfully. Once the horse settles down with the rope around his hoof he should be OK with it but not really wanting to walk around much with it. You really only want it on him just before feeding time and at his eating location. Everytime the horse paws he flicks this rope out in front of himself. MOST BUT NOT ALL horses will quickly learn that if they paw they scare themselves a little with that hunk of rope and stop pawing as they still want to eat. This is a technique that should be only attempted by people who know horses well and read the reactions of a fearful horse quickly and know how to respond and keep everything and everybody safe. I do not recommend this for a novice. I hope I have given fair warning as the the risks of a technique such as this. It is possible that the horse might get so scared he would attempt to rear or something just as dramatic or potentially dangerous. If the horse has any feet issues (sensitivity) at I would not attempt this. It might be possible to pull some ropes around all four feet to see if the horse is sensitive to that stimulus. This would be a good step in preparation.

There you have it as best as I can describe it in an email......Be careful!

Sincerely, Franklin


Thank you for your suggestion, I am amazed, it worked great! Thank you for being so smart. Hope you are taking some time out to smell those roses.

Your friend, Karen

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